Travel Forum

Our Travel Forum was created to provide you with the opportunity to connect with other travelers who share your passion for travel. Sign into "My Account" and you’ll be able to write reviews, share your travel experiences, and post questions for other travelers. Not yet registered? It’s simple to create an account, membership is free, and it only takes a moment to join. Once you do, you’ll be able to write reviews, share your travel experiences, and post questions for other travelers. If you have a specific customer service or quality assurance question, please contact our Traveler Support Team by calling 1-800-221-0814. We value the contributions of our travelers. Please familiarize yourself with the guidelines for participation before you begin.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 17, 2012

Lately, out of curiosity, I've been reading some of the travelers' reviews.  Trips I've taken and enjoyed, trips I hope to take and enjoy, trips I might take if they aren't too strenuous. 

And I've been surprised at some of the complaints.  Some of these people don't seem to have read the descriptions and itineraries.  Or they overlooked things.  They complain about the number of optionals and the prices, but those are given in the trip descriptions.  They complain about the free time, saying they wanted to be on the go all the time.  But free time is a given on GCT trips.  One person complained that an optional in the UK was to Castle Howard, but it wasn't a castle.  No, but the description showed a picture of it, called it a manor house and said it was used in the exterior shots for Brideshead Revisited.  One person complained about the amount of rain in Ireland.  Well, duh!  That's what makes it so green.

I'm beginning to wonder how much credence to give to some of these opinions. 

 

Author: sealionlady

Joined: 8/1/2010
Posts: 118
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2001

August 17, 2012

The nutty reviews (too much rain in Ireland) are the ones I enjoy most.   I do use the reviews as an enhancement to reading the trip description; for example, if several reviews complain of too much free time, I'll probably love it.  A lot of time in a bus, probably not a trip for me.  A hotel far from town .... a concern, to be considered.  I agree that the optionals are listed in the descriptions, but some trips have so many of them.  I think those complaints are valid, if only to show GCT that many people are irritated by them. 

And ..... some people are just impossible to please.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

August 17, 2012

We agree with Pauline that if one paid closer attention to the descriptions, one could eliminate a number of 'complaints.'   But there are itinerary items which could not be gleaned simply from reading the description; one would have to actually take the trip to see what alternatives were available, and at what cost.  So some things are not always evident from the promised experience.  The actual experience needs to be considered as well.  

 

We also look at WHO is issuing the 'complaint.'  If it's a person with a significant number of Grand Circle/OAT trips under their belt, we take that complaint with more than a grain of salt, and would expect that the Company does as well.   Because those 'complainers' are customers, who are familiar with the Company's policies and procedures and obviously have come back a number of times because they were satisfied, and if they have a complaint after that, why that's something coming from a more informed frame of reference.  Not to mean that a complaint made by someone with fewer trips doesn't have merit; it may.  Just that the frame of reference of a long-time customer should be a bit more insightful. 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 17, 2012

How do you know how many trips a reviewer has taken?  It's not like comments on the forums that do say how many.  I looked, and couldn't find anything. 

When I check Trip Advisor, that's something I always take into account.  When my son and I were trying to find a tour company for our Israel trip, we found one company that had received about a dozen five-star rave reviews.  But those reviews were the only ones those people had written.  They had not said they wouldn't comment further, so we each picked three to ask for more information.  And never heard back.

Author: singsling

Joined: 6/23/2010
Posts: 239
Trips Taken: 11
Traveler Since: 1995

August 17, 2012

I agree with Pauline and svcontinents.  Both made some very good points.

We look at the reviews as "who wrote them".  A lot of reviewers are so upset  that the hotel didn't  have wii fi, or only one computer for Internet.  Some complain they couldn't use their cell phone.  When I go on a trip, we leave home home.  Our kids know where to reach me at the hotel, and how to dial if they don't know already, and we don't expect calls from bill collectors, or whatever. 

On one river cruise when we were leaving on an 8:00 AM bus, one of the passengers said he was on vacation and didn't want to get up that early and be on the road, he figured 9:30 - 10:00 AM was sufficient--he vowed to write that up in his review.   Well, duh, why pay so much to go to Europe, even the small part of it that we see on one trip compared to the size of the  whole of Euope, that we want to experience as much as we can.  If people look at all the sideboard topics, they will see the optional tours available and if they don't like them, don't take them.  I've been to some places several times, If we don't want to go to a particular place we've been before, we just don't go with the group.  But we don't complain about it later.

And we must remember this--if you offer some folks a $10 bill, they will complain they didn't get two $5's. 

 

 

 

Author: nanaandpapa

Joined: 3/30/2011
Posts: 490
Trips Taken: 15
Countries Visited:

Aruba, Austria, Australia, Bermuda, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Rep., Egypt, England, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Luxembourg, Mexico, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, St. Marten (fr), St. Martin (nd), Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, Vatican, Zimbabwe

Traveler Since: 2002

August 17, 2012

 I think that it behooves everyone  planning on taking a trip to research it throughly, reading all reviews of the trip and searching this forum for comments. In addition they should review TripAdvisor on the accomodati0on and destinations on the trip, although I take TripAdvsor with a grain os salt, as you can get reviews all over the ballpark. A given hotel may be given a 5* by one person a 1* by another. See what thw complaints are and determine if they are important to you. After 13 GCT/OAT trips, we still research every trip as though we were planning it independently. This not only helps up plan the right trip, but aslo to get the most out of it.

Also check Frommers.com and Fodors.com. See what other reviews they have done. Re the constant naysayers or cheerleaders. Make your own decisions based on this info.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

August 18, 2012

 we agree with nananadpapa, and do pretty much the same thing when we decide to book a particular trip.  We, as have they, take the traveler reviews with a grain of salt, both on this site and on trip advisor as well.  We have found that when a trip of a particular provider is discussed, we generally get a more objective review on the INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL NEWS web site.  The site is not well known, so unlike other sites which have a larger following, for the most part, the people who post there are seasoned travelers, rather than casual users.  We have found that those posts there tend to be more objective and absent of trivial complaints, as others have described earlier in this thread.  

 

Of course, we use the reviews on this site as well, subject to our earlier comments.

Author: jl.anderson

Joined: 3/17/2010
Posts: 69
Trips Taken: 5
Countries Visited:

OAT/GCT: China, Peru, Ecuador, Ukraine, Russia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda; 35+ more countries

Traveler Since: 2007

August 20, 2012

In reading the Traveler's Reviews for Israel on the OAT website, I was amused by one man's complaint that on the Israel tour that there was too much emphasis on religion!!! 

Hmmmm . . .

Author: walshcs

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 87
Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, the Canadian Maritimes incl. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, Montreal (Quebec), Guatemala, and many USA cities incl. NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, the Oregon coast, Maine coast, parts of Florida. I took a 10 day tour to Costa Rica where I was especially thrilled to experience the tropical plants, birds, volcanos, and met the friendly Ticos. I did Ireland in Depth with GCT Oct. 2011 and it was an inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful experience to finally visit the land of my Irish ancestors. Completed the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast with the pre-trip to Venice April 21, 2012 and it was a travel dream fulfilled. I booked Guatemala with Tikal, Antigua and Atitlan for January 2013 and had a wonderful adventure discovering modern day Maya culture and learning about ancient Maya city states with my visit to Tikal. Very excited that OAT has brought back the trip to Japan and I leave on that tour Nov. 4, 2013 with the pre-trip to Tokyo. Now I finally have the resources to pursue my "bucket list" of foreign travel and the freedom to chart my own life's course. Ask questions that will satisfy your requirements/interests in a travel buddy. Looking forward to meeting you here and maybe in the world. Warm regards, Cate I'll post a photo when I remember to bring one from home. (Only have internet at work for now.)

Traveler Since: 2011

August 21, 2012

Hi All,

Agree with most comments on this discussion about the credibility and sometimes absurdibility of reviewers' complaints.

Want to add that I do read and enjoy the reviews...I like to hear about others' experiences on a particular trip, both those I took as well as those trips under consideration for the future.

Regarding whose comments "carry more weight" those of  travelers with multiple trips or those with a smaller number, I would like to say that I am relatively new to GCT/OAT but not to travel. At least three of us who took the same trip to Italy this spring had the SAME complaints, i.e., not being able to visit the most desirable sites on our day trip to Florence for example. We shared many of the same concerns despite the fact that some of us had traveled extensively with this company and some only a few trips so far.

I would suggest that we pay more attention to whether the comments seem silly (blaming the company for the weather), or provide thoughtful feedback that will improve the quality of future offerings by GCT/OAT as well as giving prospective travelers tips on whether a particular trip has a chance of meeting their expectations or disappointing them.

Just me, Walshcs 

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 21, 2012

I agree with Cate about the time given to Florence.  When I visited there on the Tuscany and Amalfi Coast tour, it was my third time.  The previous times, I had stayed in Florence and had plenty of time to visit everything I wanted to see.  The friend I traveled with had never been there before and really felt she'd missed a lot. 

If enough people point that out, maybe GCT will schedule more than the one day there.  It's a city with a great deal to see.

Author: janice!

Joined: 3/18/2010
Posts: 277
Trips Taken: 7
Countries Visited:

many

Traveler Since: 1999

August 21, 2012

I view GCT as a company whose goal is to provide a provide a high quality travel experience at a hard-to-beat price. Adding more time in Florence would undoubtedly drive up the price of the trip so that it would be less attractive to potential customers.

Author: walshcs

Joined: 1/25/2011
Posts: 87
Trips Taken: 3
Countries Visited:

Costa Rica, Ireland, Italy, the Canadian Maritimes incl. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI, Montreal (Quebec), Guatemala, and many USA cities incl. NYC, Chicago, New Orleans, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, the Oregon coast, Maine coast, parts of Florida. I took a 10 day tour to Costa Rica where I was especially thrilled to experience the tropical plants, birds, volcanos, and met the friendly Ticos. I did Ireland in Depth with GCT Oct. 2011 and it was an inspiring, beautiful, and meaningful experience to finally visit the land of my Irish ancestors. Completed the Tuscany & the Amalfi Coast with the pre-trip to Venice April 21, 2012 and it was a travel dream fulfilled. I booked Guatemala with Tikal, Antigua and Atitlan for January 2013 and had a wonderful adventure discovering modern day Maya culture and learning about ancient Maya city states with my visit to Tikal. Very excited that OAT has brought back the trip to Japan and I leave on that tour Nov. 4, 2013 with the pre-trip to Tokyo. Now I finally have the resources to pursue my "bucket list" of foreign travel and the freedom to chart my own life's course. Ask questions that will satisfy your requirements/interests in a travel buddy. Looking forward to meeting you here and maybe in the world. Warm regards, Cate I'll post a photo when I remember to bring one from home. (Only have internet at work for now.)

Traveler Since: 2011

August 22, 2012

Hi Janice...I understand the point you are making about trip cost. In one of my reviews of the Italy trip (and some of the other travelers on my departure had similiar comments), I suggested that GCT provide a way for travelers who book that trip to make a reservation in advance for places like the Uffizi Gallery. We were a sad group that on our only day in Florence, we mostly saw the OUTSIDES of the most famous attractions. I wouldn't mind another day in Florence, as Pauline suggests (thanks pauline), however just in advance no queue tix would solve the major problem. I continue to travel with GCT partly for their quality and also, as you note, for the value offered for the price. There's always more than one way to address a travel concern.

Cate

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 970
Trips Taken: 11
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 22, 2012

And to travel to Florence and not be able to see the things that make it attractive to tourists seems counter-productive to me.  When I took the Tuscany and Amalfi Coast trip, we did get into the Uffizi Gallery, but not the Tomb of the Medicis.  Years before, when I went with my husband, I had trouble getting him out of both of them.  And he was one of those museum goers who usually zipped through exhibits.

If a second day in Florence isn't cost effective, then tickets for the important exhibits ahead of time makes sense.

Author: arnold

Joined: 10/20/2010
Posts: 15
Trips Taken: 8
Traveler Since: 2004

August 23, 2012

 For those who are interested in Florence in depth,  I recommend Italy: Tuscany,  the Alps,  and the Riviera,  which I took in 2004.  GCT discontinued this trip for a few years but now it is back,  slightly altered.  After 8 trips with GCT,  this is still one of my favorites,  in no small part,  because of the 5 days we spent in Florence.

On a subsequent trip to Italy (Amalfi coast............) those in the group who chose the optional to Florence were disappointed to find  themselves there on a day when  many  places were closed to visitors.

Sadly,  I have noticed that on many GCT itineraries,  few days are spent in the "premier" locations and in order to see them,  i. e. Paris,  London, Rome,  one  must pony up for the rather expensive pre or post trip option.    

 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 529
Trips Taken: 8
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

August 23, 2012

"Sadly, I have noticed that on many GCT itineraries, few days are spent in the "premier" locations and in order to see them, i. e. Paris, London, Rome, one must pony up for the rather expensive pre or post trip option." 

When it's a major city, you could easily remedy that by taking "breakaway" for a few days before or after the trip. I've done it and found good accommodations for less than the "rather expensive" pre or post trip and saw what I wanted to see at my own pace.

Author: svncontinents

Joined: 11/25/2011
Posts: 230
Trips Taken: 13
Traveler Since: 2007

August 26, 2012

 The difference between a traveler review and a gripe, posted as a review, is:  Has the reviewer been even-handed?  Has there been an objective summary of the review, offering points of commendation as well as shortcomings, and suggestions either implied or stated for improvement?  These suggestions,' frequently have an underlying policy of the Company at issue, and long-time travelers of Grand Circle/OAT are more likely to address these than those who do not have long term experience with the Company.  Regardless, even still, long time customers can be prone to 'griping,' and we will dismiss their reviews accordingly, as we do all others.  Where we see longevity, such as on these forums, we can draw those conclusions.  Similarly, we also dismiss reviews which could have been written by Grand Circle's public relations department, where everything is perfect beyond belief.  Surely, there must have been something on a trip which was less than perfect, even if one thought the trip great.  Those reviews are also as lacking as those which are merely gripes, because neither gives a good honest review of a trip.

As we've said before, we've found some of the best reviews in INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL NEWS, even when they pertain to Grand Circle/OAT trips, which are written about with a somewhat regular degree of frequency. And those reviews are not especially written as critiques; they're written as trip descriptions, but they do provide the even-handed description that one wants in a review.  We'd recommend a look.  The magazine will send those who request it, a free copy.   

You cannot Post or Reply, please sign in

Rules of Use:
Be Relevant

Please stick to the topic of travel when posting in our Forum. Stay on the relevant topic and do not disrupt a discussion in progress. If you have a specific customer service question or issue, please contact our Traveler Support Team by calling 1-800-221-0814.

Be Respectful

Use of any inappropriate language, personal attacks, and hate speech are not permitted. Respect others’ opinions and suggestions.

Be Mindful of Privacy Issues

Please do not post the personal information of other members (full names, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, etc).

Help us help you

Please click on the ‘Report Abuse’ button if you see an inappropriate posting.